Even if you’re reading this, fairly sure you’ve never had a religious inkling in your life, and pretty sure your parents didn’t either, it’s still likely that you come from a culture founded along religious lines. And there’s got to be a cultural fallout when a society goes from faith to not – a gap to be minded so much more than people seem to realise.
The welfare state was described, at its inception, as something that was there to support us from the cradle to the grave. The safety net that would always be there to catch you as you fell. The Tories are currently having a lovely time running through it with a massive pair of pinking shears, slashing those feelings of security from beneath our feet. Imagine religion, then, as the welfare state of the mind. The knowledge that, however crap your current material situation, however hard on your luck or love you are, something warm is waiting for you and you will never truly be alone. Now imagine people coming along with their atheist pinking shears to slash that sentiment.
So go easy on the religious. The fall from faith is a long one. The landing is a hard one.
Read the whole thing. The sort-of unstated but clear (at least to me) point is that the fall from faith is a long, hard one for Sophie Heawood too.
Her piece brings to mind something Damon Linker wrote a few years ago about “catastrophic atheism,” and the unwarranted smugness of the New Atheists and their devotees, who don’t see, as “catastrophic atheists” like Nietzsche saw, that living without God is rather more serious than the childish idea that now that Daddy is gone, we can have as much fun as we like. Excerpt:
[T]he new atheists seem steadfastly opposed even to entertaining the possibility that there might be any trade-offs involved in breaking from a theistic view of the world. Rather than explore the complex and daunting existential challenges involved in attempting to live a life without God, the new atheists rudely insist, usually without argument, that atheism is a glorious, unambiguous benefit to mankind both individually and collectively. There are no disappointments recorded in the pages of their books, no struggles or sense of loss. Are they absent because the authors inhabit an altogether different spiritual world than the catastrophic atheists? Or have they made a strategic choice to downplay the difficulties of godlessness on the perhaps reasonable assumption that in a country hungry for spiritual uplift the only atheism likely to make inroads is one that promises to provide just as much fulfillment as religion? Either way, the studied insouciance of the new atheists can come to seem almost comically superficial and unserious. (Exhibit A: Blogger P.Z. Myers, who takes this kind of thing to truly buffoonish lengths, viciously ridiculing anyone who dares express the slightest ambivalence about her atheism.)
So by all means, reject God. But please, let’s not pretend that the truth of godlessness necessarily implies its goodness. Because it doesn’t.
[H/T: Reader NR]